Tag Archives: Assault on Precinct 13

The Thing (1982)

As stated in our review of The Fog, few directors have had their filmography subjected to as many pointless remakes as John Carpenter. The Thing might be the one that seems the most untouchable, the most sacred in its original form. Ironically, the 2011 Thing remake is probably the best Carpenter remake of them all. Still, the further one delves into the (re)making of the update, the more it just seems like doing Thing over again is a bad idea. Eric Newman, one of the producers on the 2011 film, had this to say about the development:

“I’d be the first to say no one should ever try to do Jaws again and I certainly wouldn’t want to see anyone remake The Exorcist…we really felt the same way about The Thing. It’s a great film. But once we realized there was a new story to tell, with the same characters and the same world, but from a very different point of view, we took it as a challenge.”

No, this isn’t going to be a rant about originality (or lack thereof) or a rant about practical effects (or lack thereof) in modern filmmaking — if you were to blindly click anywhere else on your screen right now you’d probably hit one of those. If anything, much as our rundown on Carpenter’s Escape from New York attempted to define “infodump”, what we’re really concerned with here is how far the term “remake” really stretches.

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The Fog (1980)

Hollywood has a thing for remaking anything with John Carpenter’s name on it, even the snoozier stuff like The Fog. It almost never ends well. Whether or not you enjoy early Carpenter fare like Assault on Precinct 13 or Halloween, there’s little doubt that the remakes amount to nothing but unorganized grabastic pieces of amphibian shit. They remade The Thing recently, too, which approaches sacrilege, and they even had the gall to structure the thing (ha!) as a prequel of sorts without bothering to dream up a different title (like Dawn of the Planet of the Thing: Origins). We weren’t fooled: it’s a remake. Just last week a proposed remake of Big Trouble in Little China hit the internet because why the hell not? It’s there, isn’t it? What else are we supposed to do with it? Sit on the couch with Dwayne Johnson right there and everything and just watch it?

The Fog, Carpenter’s first studio feature after the unexpected success of Halloween, might have been one that could have been improved by a remake. The original contains a great deal of evidence as to why Carpenter’s films seem so remakeable, regardless of whatever the reason is that no one can seem to pull it off. 2007’s Halloween completely missed massive aspects of the original that made it good in the first place, as have most other Carpenter re-dos, but with The Fog there wasn’t much to worry about in that arena. The premise is straightforward and the execution in the original leaves much to be desired, based on a few things we’ll touch on here. But lo and behold: they quite literally hired the dude who directed Blank Check to helm the Fog remake, and the update managed to be so many zillion times worse than the already-not-that-great original. Go figure.

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Film & TV News: April 20

News

  • Plot details for Star Wars: Rogue One reveal that the rumored Death Star connection is in fact at the center of the 2016 spinoff. This means the events will take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, which is simultaneously exciting and worrying.
  • Tribeca Film Festival continues this week, closing on April 26th. Western-themed highlights of this year’s festival include William Monahan’s Mojave and the Michael Fassbender frontier flick Slow West.
  • John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to last year’s excellent Cavalry, a New Mexico-set black comedy called War on Everyone, began filming this week. Check out the first image over at Empire.

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Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

There’s a building on a quiet alley in a rundown part of the city that’s almost abandoned, draped in shadow and disrepair. Inside the building is a collection of individuals from vastly different walks of life. There is a supervising lieutenant freshly assigned to the job. There is a grief-stricken father in the throes of shock after discovering his murdered daughter. There are two dainty secretaries wearing sweaters (one orange, one yellow). There are three hardened criminals, one of whom is sick with a possible virus. Each of the people inside the building is an individual with an individual story. Outside is different. Outside is a creeping evil, a legion of hunters that is nonetheless a single faceless and motiveless mass, no individual stories to be found. The hunt is all.

…sounds like a horror movie, right? Like the kind John Carpenter might make? Even beyond Carpenter, this is not at all an unfamiliar formula for fright-fests — strangers unite against mysterious evil — serving as the entire premise of movies like Cube and Saw. The idea that something lurking out there will inevitably attack each stranger regardless of their differences is an inherently scary notion. And even though Assault on Precinct 13 isn’t necessarily a horror movie, it’s at its most effective when it operates like one.

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